In this episode, Dan Gorman and Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm follow up on their 2018 conversation for the RSP. The topic is Storm’s book Metamodernism: The Future of Theory (University of Chicago Press, 2021). Storm shifts away from the deconstructive and genealogical approach to religion that he pursued in his earlier books The Invention of Religion in Japan and The Myth of Disenchantment. Although Storm finds great value in the critical theories known in the United States as “postmodernism,” he is concerned that postmodernism has led to an intellectual dead end. Humanities scholars can get caught in an infinite cycle of questioning the assumptions of their academic fields. Knowing anything with any degree of certainty seems impossible. Storm argues that scholars should engage in self-reflection and critique, but they must not give up on the pursuit of knowledge. We can learn about the world, even if our subjectivity and the limits of language prevent us from achieving truly objective knowledge. This metamodern mentality balances critique with investigation, emphasizes the process of knowledge-making over static categories or terms, encourages a healthy but moderate skepticism (Zeteticism), and situates human-made signs as part of the larger natural world (hylosemiotics). Join the RSP on a journey down the philosophical rabbit hole.
The musical excerpt at the beginning of the episode is from Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. The song, “Move On”, is performed by Annaleigh Ashford and Jake Gyllenhaal (2017 Broadway Cast Recording). ℗ 2017 Arts Music.